Land Valuation Increases from Recreational Opportunity: A Study of Mississippi Rural Land Sales

We conducted a survey to evaluate sales values of private rural lands (N = 100; 13,559 ha) that were purchased for recreational uses in Mississippi from 2002-2005. Most (70%) land parcels were located near or in the Mississippi River Delta region with dominant cover types of forest (52%) or agricultural crops (43%). Important recreational uses included hunting, off road vehicles access, horseback riding, wildlife watching, ecotourism, and fishing. Featured species were white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; 93%), rabbits (Sylvilagus spp.; 65%), wild turkey (Meleagris gallopavo; 56%), waterfowl (48%), squirrels (Sciurus spp.; 38%), mourning dove (Zenaida macroura; 15%), northern bobwhite (Colinus virginianus; 12%), and other (< 10%). Recreational uses contributed an average increase of 36% (US$808.73/ha) in property value. Property characteristics that influenced sales price were hectares of bottomland hardwood forests, pine-hardwood forests, and wildlife supplemental food plots. We propose that wildlife and fish recreation contributes to sales values of Mississippi properties and that wildlife professionals work cooperatively with appraisers and economists to attain this type of information for use in impact assessment and planning. We also submit that conservation and management of wildlife and fish resources can produce quantifiable increases in land values and that consideration of value added by outdoor recreation is part of a cost-effective approach to sustainable economic development in Mississippi.

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